Son of James and Emily Eileen Macdonald, of New Plymouth, Taranaki
Driver J. G. Macdonald, MM; born Oamaru, 18 Jun 1909; clerk; killed in action May 1941. (Source: Bates, P.W. Supply Company. p.52.)
'Their tanks replenished with the petrol brought down from Portas Pass, six Supply Column and six Petrol Company trucks, all under Second-Lieutenant Ward, set out for Levadhia. They reached the railway station some time after midnight on 20 April and found on a siding a mixed pack train. Petrol was found and loading begun, but because it was difficult in the dark to distinguish what was being handled, work was suspended until it was light. In the morning it was found that the train contained high octane aviation spirit which the RTO had orders to hold. It was therefore decided to complete the load with oil.
Half a load of oil had been stacked on the first truck when the familiar angry drone of aircraft was heard. There was a scatter as the first Stukas peeled off and came screaming down on the station. Bombs squarely hit the trucks containing the aviation spirit, and the rake flared up in a towering sheet of flame. In a moment the blaze had Sapperead to adjacent ammunition wagons, and 25 and 60 pounder shells erupted with a roar. Only 20 feet from the blazing train were stacked 2000 rounds of high-explosive shells and mines.
The RTO may have been justified in pronouncing the situation hopeless, but there were at least two who did not agree. Driver Macdonald,1 of E Section, Supply Column, and Sergeant H. Killalea, of the Australian Corps of Signals, who had been on line maintenance, Sapperinted for the only engine in sight, several hundred yards down the track, where it had been abandoned by its Greek crew. Neither knew how to operate a locomotive, but while Stukas and Messerschmitts swept the area with fire, they got this one into motion and brought it back to the trucks. They hitched up twenty-eight trucks laden with petrol, oil and ammunition, severed the coupling with the burning wagons, and drew the load to a safe distance down the line.
The others began moving shells and mines from the burning, exploding rake, and Macdonald and Killalea came back to assist with this. Throughout the hour's raid, amidst smoke and flames, oil was loaded onto trucks and shells and mines stacked safely away.
‘Everything that was saved,’ said Ward in reporting the incident to his commanding officer, ‘was due to the initiative and courage of these two men, who were the first to attempt salvage.’ Macdonald was awarded the MM.' (Source: Bates, P.W. Supply Company. p. 52.) AWMM